Warped Tour 2003

Warped Tour 2003

Various Artists

Epitaph

Reviewing compilations is often difficult. I’m on my third this month! Some compilations are designed to chronicle a particular time or place, while others, like Warped Tour 2003, bring together disparate styles and tastes to show the eclecticism of a label. Basically, it’s the equivalent of a corporate mix tape, without the emotional baggage of the tape you’ve just slaved over.

Truly fascinating and worthwhile highlights are rare — primarily because the songs are previously released. With that in mind, there are a few gems on this two disc compilation.

Stage 1, rather the first disc, comprises of mostly emo or screamo, whatever the hell it’s called nowadays. With the likes of The Used, Glassjaw and Poison the Well, you’ll likely enjoy disc one. But pay attention to The Suicide Machines, Thrice and NOFX while you’re there.

Also on disc one, Less Than Jake prove that they are more than a ska-revival band with “ASOK.” And, personally, I’ve always been partial to everything Face to Face has released, even if it is off their “weaker” How to Ruin Everything album. It’s no coincidence that they’ve recently disbanded; “Anybody Listening” asks just that…

Avoid One Thing (with Matt Skiba) contributes “Punk Rock Band,” a tongue-in-cheek-make-fun-of-ourselves tune that is one part parody and one part meta-fiction.

Disc 2 gets even stronger with the Bouncing Souls, the Dropkick Murphys and newbies Rise Against.

“Glad” by Swingin’ Utters proves that hardcore inspired by our English friends can have a hook, without the anthem. The Casualties continue the aggressive British snarl, ripping through “Made in NYC.”

Just like every compilation, there exist some great tunes that will expose a few to something new. Unfortunately, there are also some shitty songs that should not have seen the light of day.

It is a disservice to the listener to not prepare them for, well, shit. Take a deep breath because here it goes: Talking Back Sunday gives us a pop ballad with an interloping drum machine on “Your Own Disaster,” while Andrew W.K. attempts to conjure a hellish Mozart and purified Glen Danzig on “Ready to Die.” And (I’m almost done, you’ll be able to breathe in a moment), Mest presents a Cure-ish “Rooftops.”

You may breathe now.

Epitaph Records: http://www.epitaph.com/

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